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Benson Brothers Hoping to Lead GCU to First NCAA Tourney

March 29, 2017. The Oregon Ducks travel to Phoenix, AZ in preparation for their Final Four game vs. North Carolina. (Eric Evans Photography)

After leading Tempe’s Corona Del Sol high school to 3 straight state championships, and being named Arizona’s Gatorade player of the year after his senior season in 2014, Casey Benson continued his basketball career at the University of Oregon. After playing 3 years for the Ducks, Benson, who graduated early, decided to transfer for his senior season. The 6’3″ 185 pound point guard heard from roughly 25 schools who were interested in his services. Programs from the ACC, Big East, Pac 12, SEC, and Big 10, amongst others inquired. Benson took a visit to Wisconsin, but ultimately decided to return home and play his final season at GCU.

“The awesome thing about it is that I never felt like I was starting over in coming back to GCU. When some guys transfer to other places you go to a whole new program, guys that you don’t necessarily know. The great thing about here was that I knew all of the coaches, I knew all of the players. I have great relationships with all of them, and had played pick up ball with them. So I never felt like I was starting over.” Benson said.

“The recruiting pitch was pretty simple at the end of the day.”

While Casey was playing at Oregon, he would come home during the summers and work out at GCU. Helping lead the recruiting pitch to land Casey was TJ Benson, Casey’s older brother. T.J. is in his 6th season as an Antelopes assistant coach. “I told TJ if he doesn’t get him, he is going to be fired immediately. So he did a good job.” GCU head coach Dan Majerle jokingly said. For TJ it’s great to reunite with his brother.

“It’s been a lot of fun to say the least having him back home, having him be around our family every single day, and getting to coach him up on top of that, couldn’t really ask for much more.” Casey adds, “me and him are really close. He is like my best friend so being able to play for him my senior year, it’s special. I look up to him. I grew up watching him from when I was five years old, traveling watching him play. So the recruiting pitch was pretty simple at the end of the day.”

TJ, who is 9 years older than Casey, played collegiately at Mesa Community College, Weber State, and Grand Canyon, and professionally in Brazil. Now he has to balance being a coach and big brother to Casey. “It’s tough at times. I’m not going to lie to you. I am his biggest fan. I want him to be successful, but first and foremost, I want our team to win. That is one thing with him, he is all about the team. It doesn’t matter if he goes out and scores 2 points, or scores 20 has 10 assists, or is locking a guy up, he wants to win.” TJ said.

The Oregon Ducks take on the North Carolina Tar Heels in the 2017 NCAA Final Four National Semifinal game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona on April 1, 2017 (Eric Evans Photography)

“You couldn’t write a better story book ending.”

Last year Casey played on college basketball’s biggest stage in the Final Four at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale in front of family and friends. This year, together, the Benson brothers are hoping to lead GCU to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. “Going to the Final Four last year was special, but to be able to share that with everybody here at GCU, Coach Majerle, it would be amazing. There’s really not much more you could really ask.” Casey said. TJ adds, “It is something that we talk about every day, but I think for him it’s just staying in the moment, enjoying it. Ultimately if we do go to the tournament, and that is the way his career ends, you couldn’t write a better story book ending.”

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